House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the youth at risk committee which has spent a great deal of time studying the issues around the problems facing native children. Housing on reserves is an extremely important one. A sense of entitlement, having land, having rights, although abstract, are issues that impact on children strongly. This movement toward giving more recognition of native land is a start, and I am happy to support it.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-28 which is an act to amend the National Parks Act.

Lest anyone misunderstands, the bill is about transferring land out of two national parks. They are small amounts of land and both involve aboriginal bands and communities.

The one that concerns me the most is Pacific Rim National Park. It is in my riding of Nanaimo—Alberni. The other one is a small piece of land attached to Riding Mountain National Park that I understand was simply an error in surveying. A small piece of land along Clear Lake will be added to the Clear Lake Band, correcting a historical and factual error in the actual boundaries of the reserve adjacent to the lake. We have no problem with correcting a historical error.

The issue that had potential for a lot consideration and dialogue is about transferring land from Pacific Rim National Park out of the park to meet the needs of the band.

As has been said by other members, the small piece of reserve land known as Esowista is about eight hectares. It is the main housing area for the Tla-o-qui-aht Band. Although the band has about 10 small reserve areas in the coastal area, the only other one that is really inhabited is Opitsat which is on Meares Island across from the main dock in Tofino. It is a small community but of course people have the hassle of going by water taxi to join up with Vancouver Island in order to relate to the broader community and to have the advantages of the amenities of roads, grocery stores and things that are necessary for successful living in today's society. At Opitsat they have to cross by water taxi in a very rapid moving channel in Clayoquot Sound and the Tofino Inlet.

The only real place to expand housing where people want to live is in the small piece of land known as Esowista which existed before the creation of the park in 1970.

I have been on the reserve lands and have walked around the community. It is crowded. There is no question that the community's housing needs need to be addressed. The existing reserve is hemmed in by the park. There literally is no room to store boats and trailers, or to expand the population. The existing housing is overcrowded. There is a definite need for the young people growing up there to have a place of their own and to live in a more reasonable environment.

There are a number of concerns related to this. It has been quite an exercise. Parks Canada and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have been working on this for some time with the band. The Government of British Columbia, as has been pointed out by the parliamentary secretary, is on side with the transfer of the land. A wide range of environmental groups, as was mentioned also by the parliamentary secretary, have agreed to the transfer, as have the local communities, the mayors with whom I have spoken in Tofino and Ucluelet, and the Alberni Clayoquot Regional Council.

Everyone is pretty well on board with the transfer of this small amount of land. It is about 82 hectares and it will provide for housing needs for about 200 people.

I need to speak about the park. Pacific Rim National Park is one of Canada's most famous national parks. It has a reputation worldwide. Many visitors come from around the world, particularly from Europe, to visit Pacific Rim National Park. It is such an area of natural beauty. It is a thin strip of land on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. I will borrow some of the language from the Parks Canada website:

Its magnificent islands, beaches and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barclay Sound), and the challenging 72 kilometre West Coast Trail.

Long Beach is where Esowista is located.

People come from across the world to hike along the West Coast Trail. We did it ourselves a number of years ago. A marathoner might do it in three days. We did it in eight days. It is a rugged area of coastline, up and down wadis and valleys, creek beds, cable cars riding over creek beds, and rope ladders up and down the cliffs. There is camping on the beach at night and people carry their own food.

This park attracts people from around the world that come to enjoy nature. Off the coast of Tofino and Clayoquot Sound there is a wide range of wildlife: California sea lions, seals, sea otters, all kinds of fish and whales, and grey whales that migrate up and down the coast, particularly in the spring. Right about now, the whale festival is going on in Tofino, with the grey whales migrating along the coast. Of course, there are also the orcas, transients that visit the area from time to time, or killer whales as they are known.

This park is a beautiful area. There are long stretches, kilometres, of beautiful beach. The park comprises a total area of about 500 square kilometres stretching across 125 kilometres from Tofino in the north to Port Renfrew in the south. The larger portion of that is in my riding and some of it is in the neighbouring riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan.

When it came to taking land out of the park, there were a lot of concerns about where this land would be? How were we going to expand the reserve, where would the land be located, and would it respect the environmental concerns in the neighbouring area?

Having looked into this, the officials from Parks Canada and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs have done due diligence in working with this project. I want to commend the chief and the band members. They butted heads for some time over exactly where this land would be located. In talking to the chief, to the park officials, and to Alex Zellermeyer, the park superintendent, these discussions went on for some time over a period of approximately two years, assisted by David Nairne and Associates, a company that assisted in the development process of how this community would look.

The sensitive issues about removing the expansion from the waterfront have been addressed. The band made concessions. It did not get exactly what it wanted and everybody had to work together collaboratively to come up with an agreement that would work.

The actual area is adjacent to the small Esowista reserve as it exists now, about eight hectares, and is going to be separated from the addition by an area because adjacent to it is an access to a parking area. The park has built quite an elaborate access out to Schooner Cove. That is a popular area for people to hike out to, go up and down boardwalks, and visit the beautiful beaches.

In order to preserve the integrity of the park's infrastructure, the band agreed to take reserve land beyond the Schooner Beach Trail access and leave the access intact. That involves a connector road that is not on the main road.

Regarding the environmental aspects of looking at where they would choose the exact piece of land, if we look at the boundary that was chosen, it respects the geographical landmarks and the natural landforms that are there. It was developed and designed for the housing improvements with the environment in mind by preserving the local drainage and the local bog that slows the water from rushing immediately out to the ocean and onto the beaches. The bog filters the water and the local drainage.

It is actually a model community that has been designed here. The thing that caused us the most concern and caused me the most angst was when I heard that this was coming up, and it was to be debated and fast-tracked in the House. It was just before our last break a few weeks ago. The House was on recess and I heard that when we were to return, we were going to be moving very quickly to get this through.

We recognize that the needs in the community are great and we do not want to see this held up by a recess or by an election. It could be a year before this is advanced if it is not put through before an election, if indeed an election call comes in the next few weeks, or a few days.

When I look at the memorandum of understanding, when I first heard of this I happened to be on the west coast. I went immediately to the chief who was not present, so I did visit with one of the elders who walked me over to the reserve. I looked at the housing and the needs on the reserve. I met with Tom Curley who is a longtime resident of that area. It was obvious that the expansion needed to take place and that the housing needed to be addressed.

However, when I met with the chief later and looked at the memorandum of understanding, I recognized that the parks people had done due diligence. The department had done a very thorough job in addressing this issue. The attitude of the aboriginal people toward environment can be summarized by one word. They have an expression called “hishukishtsawak” which means everything is one. It is a traditional recognition that we are part of nature and nature is part of us, and we had better respect nature if we want to benefit from a longstanding and successful relationship.

They also use the term “isaak” which means respect. The aboriginal people understand that. The Tla-o-qui-aht band has lived on and around the land, and off the resources for as long as any history has been recording it.

When I read through the memorandum of understanding, I found very good clauses through it, all about where the land would be located, the village connector road, and the limitations of further transfers. There is another parcel in the memorandum of understanding. Frankly, I have not heard anybody address the memorandum of understanding and that is why I wanted to address it here today.

When we get to clause 9, suddenly we run into an obstacle. It states under “Legal Nature of this Understanding”:

This Understanding does not create legally binding obligations on the Parties.

Frankly, it seems that this is the kind of legal language that is sewn into all memoranda of understanding. It seems to me that lawyers sew in enough loopholes to these agreements to keep them busy for another 100 years. My concern is, if Bill C-28 were to pass, the land would come out of the park. That would be a certainty. How the land will be used needs to be addressed as well.

When I met with the chief, councillor Simon Tom, and officials from David Nairne and Associates, we had quite an extensive meeting relating to this with the superintendent for the parks, Alex Zellermeyer. We thrashed through our concerns about this issue. The chief agreed with me that the band wanted certainty in the language as well. The band was committed to using the land for residential purposes only. It was not about a commercial development.

There is an agreement in the memorandum for another parcel to be located later outside of the park that would be used for commercial purposes. The band agreed that it would abide by the terms in the memorandum. Because of our concerns for this loose language that says it is not legally binding, the parties came to an agreement with a lot of effort. We were meeting on the west coast and they called back to Ottawa on a Friday afternoon. The justice officials and the department officials worked rather hard over the weekend to establish an amendment to the memorandum of understanding for greater clarity.

I would like to refer to that briefly because it was a lot of work and we appreciate them doing that. After the appropriate introductory remarks, it recognizes what we are addressing here. It states:

Now therefore the Parties agree to amend the MOU as follows:

  1. For greater certainty, the Nation will adhere exclusively to the land uses as outlined in the MOU, namely, community development;

  2. Any proposed changes in, or additions to, the uses of the land being at Esowista Indian Reserve No. 3 will require written agreement from the Parties.

I appreciate that. It makes it perfectly clear that the chief of the band was willing to put his hand to that agreement. Department officials were willing to do that and we want to see this go ahead. We do not want to see the community held up. We want to see that development begin as soon as possible so the housing needs of the young people and the community can be addressed.

I want to mention the concerns we had with regard to that and to the loose nature of these things. If it has no legal binding, what is to say that five years from now a new chief, a young chief that we do not know, and some slick developer who now recognizes this land is worth millions and millions of dollars in the middle of a national park, would not try to convince the new young band members to develop a resort condominium or put a casino right in the middle of the park.

That is the kind of thing that concerns people. I saw something recently, when I was on the west coast, I had never seen before. Just out of the park on another beach that is very much like Long Beach--and I was up early in the morning--I saw somebody on a personal watercraft, one of those high speed things, buzzing the beach. I had never seen that before.

It raises some concerns that we do not have some certainty in this agreement. What would happen if some enterprising or development minded person tried to talk the band into putting a marina down there with jet skis and watercraft for the people on the beach in the middle of the park, or a liquor store, a candy store, and stuff up and down the beach with candy wrappers? Frankly, that is not what people want to see.

When we expressed these concerns to the chief and his councillors, and the officials present, they agreed that nobody wanted to see that happen. I do not believe that is the chief's vision. They want to do the right thing. They have a model community planned and we certainly want to support it.

I appreciate the work that officials did at the last minute. My objection has to be, frankly, with the arrogance of the government in not including us to give us time to address this without creating angst among all parties.

The agreement was signed back in June. I know the chief and his councillors asked if they should be talking to anyone else, as did David Nairne and Associates, the people who worked so hard on coming to this agreement?

The volume of work that was done is very impressive. The work done on the land assessments, the land use, and the analysis of where the stream and water flows go, and the diligence that was done is very impressive. It was not a fly by night or an overnight suggestion. It was two years of very hard work.

We would have appreciated it on our side if someone had given us a little bit more time to look at it, so that the committee could go through a proper process. I know that the parliamentary secretary mentioned that the parks had consulted the environment groups and so on. Frankly, it is the duty of the opposition and the environment committee to ensure that we have indeed heard from all groups. I think the members heard some concerns being expressed by the member for Souris—Moose Mountain because we did not have time to be satisfied that those groups had been heard.

I am satisfied because, as the member for the riding, I made a point of calling the local mayors and the parks people in order to come up to speed, and to ensure that consultations had been done. We wish that we had a chance to be involved with that, so everyone's blood pressure would not have gone up about whether we would see this come through the House.

I am very hopeful we will see it come through the House. I want to see the community advance. It is obvious that the needs of the community are there. We want to see this go ahead. I am hopeful, frankly, that out of the process we worked through that we might see something happen with the Tla-o-qui-aht band. I am hopeful that we can come to final agreements and final treaties with a measure of certainty that will see everyone go ahead. Perhaps this could be a step toward a final treaty situation for this band, which is progressive. It wants to see its young people have an opportunity to be successful in the world.

There is a win for the community. The sewage treatment will involve development in the airport lands opposite the expansion. That will tie in with the Tofino water and sewage system. It will benefit the community as well.

I think there is win-win built into this arrangement. It is a very good deal for the community. We want to acknowledge that and we certainly want to see it go forward. I am hopeful that all members will have this pass in time for progress to go ahead as quickly as possible.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the comments by the member for Nanaimo—Alberni. When you saw someone on a jet ski I hope it was not the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla. During the last election campaign he would go around on a jet ski. I am just joking.

Bill C-28 concerns two parks. In one of those instances, it is only to rectify a problem with the wording, an administrative problem. The one heard about most is Pacific Rim Park.

You mentioned a lot of good things about the work of Parks Canada. Its officials, namely its CEO Mr. Latourelle and his whole team have done a tremendous job on this file, as did the team at the Department of the Environment, which was the lead department.

It takes a long time to reconstitute or enlarge a new territory. Some might think that all that is needed is a notarial deed transferring a land register number to a new landowner. It is a lot more than that. As a matter of fact, it is the whole future of a native community that is at stake. That was indeed the issue. Lands are not transferred just for the fun of it. There has to be a good reason to do so, a particular objective.

It was first and foremost to enable a native community to have a better quality of life, have access to more land and improve housing conditions.

This shows that the Government of Canada is responsible. Collectively we are responsible for improving the quality of life of native peoples, who are Canadians nevertheless.

Now that he has all the information, except for some small details, can my colleague give us his word that his colleagues in the Conservative Party of Canada as a whole will support the bill at this stage?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have seen the extensive amount of work that went into the program and I want to acknowledge that work.

I can only say that representatives of David Nairne and Associates spoke to us about this because they were concerned that after all the long work it might be held up for as long as a year. They were also disappointed that the government had not advised them that they should have spoken to at least the local member of Parliament and to his caucus. If we are trying to make things happen quickly, we need all members to participate.

I want to give credit to Jeannie Kanakos and Michael Kloppenburg representing David Nairne, who worked with the band. I think everybody, along with the chief, who I found to be a very open and honest individual, had a measure of angst about whether we could do this in such a short period. The chief is very transparent and quite clear about the band's intention to follow through to see the community advance.

I know there were some very serious concerns about the opposition to this because usually there is somebody who does not agree. It is our obligation as members of Parliament to hear from opposing views and make sure decisions that are made are the right ones, especially when we are dealing with something as close to the hearts of many as a national park.

I want to say that members opposite, with all due respect, put us in a tough spot and put a lot of pressure on me, personally, and our caucus to do due diligence with this. I had a bit of work to do to convince some of my colleagues.

I am not sure how the vote will be done on this but I believe that a majority of my party will support this because it is the right thing to do for the community. However we have to do it under a little bit of protest.

Whatever the balance of power after the next election, I hope, as we are working through these processes, that when we want to bring this into the parliamentary process we will respect that we need a measure of collaboration to assure that due diligence is done in the parliamentary process and that the communities are not held up just because of partisan concerns and the parliamentary process.

We could stick our heels in here and say that we want due diligence and that we want to hear from all these groups in committee but, as we all know, if we an election us called in the next few days there would be no time for that to happen.

I am very hopeful that we will see the bill pass speedily with the support of all parties.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform my colleague that I will be sure to pass the message to Parks Canada officials so that in the future the local MP will be involved in any negotiation with the stakeholders or, at least, consulted or kept informed right from the start.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the people of Esowista have been involved with the local community in Tofino. They live off the land and but most of them live off the sea and are very involved with the fishermen in the area.

When I first arrived on Vancouver Island, in going out to Tofino, one of the first things I wanted to do for a good friend of mine who was with me and who is an avid fisherman, was to go out on a fishing charter. Our guide, Tom Curley, a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht Band, took us out on his own boat. I am pleased to say that we were successful even though the weather was bad. Tom brought us in with a nice 11 pound salmon, much to the delight of my friend, who unfortunately was rather seasick from the rough elements, and I had to help him bring in that fish. The first fish I landed was in a boat owned by someone from the Esowista reserve. Chief Moses Martin is also a charter boat operator.

We want to see Tla-o-qui-aht Band do well in the community. I would like to see that second parcel of land move ahead quickly to give the band an economic foothold so that it can provide the occupational advantages its people need in order to have a stable future. This is in the community's interests. This could be a model development that would help see treaties advance and be finalized. It could be a model for many others to follow.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate today in the third reading debate on Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to remove lands from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada and Riding Mountain National Park of Canada.

When this bill first came before the House, I guess in my own inexperience I would have thought it would have been done by an executive council order. However, upon reflection, I can see the importance of legislation dealing with our national parks and any transfer of lands out of our national parks.

As other speakers have perhaps said better than I can say, our national parks system is a jewel. A lot of the exit surveys of both domestic tourists and international tourists indicate very clearly that the reason they came to Canada and the most enjoyable parts of their visit to Canada were their visits to the national parks. Something we have to bear in mind as we go forward as a society is the importance of our national parks system.

I was very pleased earlier this year when this government announced that our national parks system would be expanding by the addition of five national parks.

I have a particular interest in this as I come from a province that has, not a large national park, but a well-travelled national park. We have the Cavendish, Brackley and Stanhope areas, and now the new extension in Greenwich. However, compared to these national parks, it is a tiny park but one of the highest travelled parks in Canada. This of course leads to new challenges and issues that the employees of Parks Canada have to deal with.

As has been said by other speakers, the national parks of Canada represent not only Canada's heritage of magnificent physical landscapes but they also represent ancient cultural landscapes. Many of our renowned national parks are the traditional territories of aboriginal communities with living histories that predate Canada by several millennia.

In the same way that non-aboriginal Canadians take exceptional pride in their national parks, aboriginal Canadians also want to feel that national parks are important and relevant institutions for their people and their cultures.

As do Canadians in general, aboriginal communities want to be meaningfully consulted and to participate in our national parks planning and in their national parks management. They want to see their ancient and present day cultures accurately and respectfully portrayed in park information and in some of the interpretative programs. They want to see that sacred sites are protected and that traditional ecological knowledge is reflected in resource conservation and in management decisions.

I am pleased to point out that Parks Canada has worked hard to improve relationships with aboriginal communities, especially aboriginal communities that we have seen in this particular case that live near the national parks system.

This effort is focused on two main points: making national parks relevant to aboriginal Canadians and making the cultural landscapes of national parks known to all Canadians, giving all Canadians the opportunity to learn about and to appreciate the people and the cultures they are visiting.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has taken significant strides in recent years to promote aboriginal initiatives, forging relationships and making significant efforts toward the meaningful involvement of aboriginal people in the cooperative management of the national park reserve. The results have been remarkable.

By way of illustration, I would like to highlight a few of these most noteworthy accomplishments. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve worked with the Ucluelet First Nation to develop the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail inside the national park. Opened in 2003, this interpretive trail provides extensive, on-site interpretation of regional first nations culture, history and language.

In June, the Ucluelet First Nation will again honour the opening of the trail by erecting the first totem pole to be carved and raised in the traditional territory of this first nation in 104 years. That is a source of great pride for this first nation community. This “welcoming” pole will greet Canadians and other international visitors to the trail and to the Ucluelet First Nation and the Nuu-chah-nulth traditional territory. It will symbolize the long history and continuing presence of the first nations peoples in this region and in the national park in particular.

On the West Coast Trail unit of the Pacific Rim National Park, Parks Canada funds an initiative called Quu'as West Coast Trail Society. A not for profit group, this society is a training and mentoring program for the three first nations along the famous West Coast Trail, one of the world's great recreational hiking routes. I believe the previous speaker gave a very detailed, illustrative description of this trail and how it is used both by Canadians from all parts of Canada and by our international visitors.

By engaging in the cooperative management of the West Coast Trail with Parks Canada, young first nations members are exposed to the full gamut of park management issues and training related to public safety, resource conservation, monitoring, and public interpretation. As a result of this program, first nations graduates have gone on to secure full time employment with Parks Canada, with other agencies and with industry.

I want to point out that there are seven first nations within the area encompassed by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. A manager of aboriginal programs sits at the park management table and directs cooperative programs such as the promotion of first nations languages, cooperative training, the establishment of aboriginal national historic sites, and the development of aboriginal tourism opportunities.

By way of contrast, in 1997 there was no representation of first nations in the workforce of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Today, first nations represent some 18% of park staff in virtually every aspect and level of park management. This represents the approximate representation of the aboriginal people within the general area of that park.

There is no better indicator of the relevance of the Parks Canada program to first nations than their willingness to participate in the protection and preservation of one of Canada's great national parks. I believe this and certainly the two speakers who have gone before me have pointed this out. Parks Canada has placed particular focus on its relationship with the aboriginal people, and the record in Pacific Rim clearly indicates this action.

Bill C-28, which will withdraw lands from Pacific Rim in order to expand the Esowista Indian reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation will further strengthen those relationships. It will also improve the quality of life for aboriginal people, a government priority identified in the recent Speech from the Throne.

I want to point out two additional facts that have been indicated by other speakers. This legislation has received broad support from the other parties. It has received support from the native bands that it affects. It has received broad support from the provincial government and other local governments. I believe that the people involved, the chiefs and the senior management of Parks Canada, deserve a lot of credit for the way this legislation was brought forward before the House. First I want to congratulate them and then I want to thank them.

Second, as has been stated, this allows some housing developments to go up on the adjoining first nations reserve, and also, before the land was authorized to be transferred, all the environmental concerns were addressed and mitigated, which I am glad to report.

I would ask all members of the House to support the quick passage of Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated the speech by my colleague, who comes from an area where there are beautiful national parks that I have had the opportunity to visit on several occasions. The whole Canadian east coast is graced with national parks. We are trying to develop more of them in Quebec.

As you know, the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada is one of the most beautiful parks in Canada. It is a jewel in the Canadian crown. It is said that what happens outside the park has an impact on the park itself. Members of the reserve always say that it is one entity. It is multi-dimensional.

Native peoples are actively involved in managing the park. The Parks Canada Agency cannot do everything on its own, and cannot protect everything. Our responsibility, our main concern, is to protect the ecological integrity so that the community can play an active, healthy and effective role inside our parks. In this case the understanding that exists between Parks Canada and the native community has made it possible to solve the problem as a team, in partnership.

It also makes it possible for this community to be involved in managing the park, welcoming the many visitors and ensuring the complete respect of the fauna and the flora in the park.

I thank my colleague for his remarks. I would like to ask him how he sees the role of Parks Canada across our great country. Since he has had the opportunity to visit several areas in his region that belong to Parks Canada, how does he see it?

Canada National Parks Act
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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, Parks Canada has a very significant role in protecting, enhancing and expanding our national parks system, which, as I have stated, is a matter of considerable pride for all Canadians. I have mentioned the exit surveys taken of the tourists who visit our country and our national parks and the complimentary statistics toward our national parks system that come out of these surveys.

Again, though, the point I want to make is that we cannot take our national parks system for granted. A lot of parks, including the one in my province as well as Banff, are getting a lot of traffic, so there is stress. We cannot take these parks for granted. I understand that Parks Canada is aware of the problem and is being careful. We have to be very cautious as we go forward.

I am very pleased to see that the government is expanding our national parks system. This is something for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. It is something that I urge this government and provincial governments to continue. This is a matter of trust.

One of the growing areas of the tourist industry is the area of cultural tourism, and these relationships that Parks Canada has formed with our aboriginal communities have hit the nail right on the head. When people visit our national parks they can see the interpretive centres that interpret the people who lived in this country before we lived here. I think it is tremendous. Not only will this be a good relationship with aboriginal communities, but I think it will be very beneficial for this country's tourism industry.

Canada National Parks Act
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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, the debate on Bill C-28 is a very good opportunity to examine the policy of Parks Canada and put on the record a letter which accompanied a report published almost four years ago, the report of Jacques Gérin, president of the Panel on Ecological Integrityof Canada's National Parks.

I would like to read this letter that accompanied the two-volume report:

In November 1998, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Sheila Copps, struck the Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks. Its mandate was to report to the minister through a comprehensive analysis of Parks Canada's approach to ecosystemic management and restoration of ecological integrity. Last November, the panel sent to you background papers concerning our future report, and a number of you acknowledged receipt.

I am pleased to present to you a copy of our report, entitled “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, on the protection of the ecological integrity of national parks in Canada, a report Ms. Copps made public recently.

The panel wanted to share...

Canada National Parks Act
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1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am always reluctant to interrupt the hon. members, but I have to remind the House that we cannot do indirectly what we cannot do directly, that is refer to a member by name.

When quoting a text—an article from a newspaper for example—we have to replace the name of the member by the name of his or her riding, or the department that he or she represents.

I just wanted to remind him of that for his benefit.

Canada National Parks Act
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1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your intervention and I accept it.

The panel also wanted to share with a broader audience the fundamental substance of their findings and the thrust of their recommendations.The panel's report has two volumes:

Volume I: A Call to Action is an umbrella document that describes the serious threats that beset our national parks, presents an overview of values that may be lost if the threats are not resolved—

Volume II: Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks identifies specific issues and problems and makes equally specific recommendations to the Minister and to Parks Canada on how these issues could be addressed.

This is the text of the letter written by Mr. Jacques Gérin, the president of the panel.

I would like to refer to the substance of the report, first by referring to the panel and its composition because it gives a very broad picture of Canadians across the nation who were involved in this particular panel. The panel was composed of: Louis Bélanger; Stephanie Cairns; Jacques Gérin, the chair; Louise Hermanutz; Michael Hough; Henry Lickers, a well known ecologist; Thomas Nudds; Juri Peepre; Paul Wilkinson; Stephen Woodley; and Pamela Wright, the vice-chair.

The report puts forward challenges, first of all, and then highlights. I would like put on record the challenges that were discovered and outlined in the first volume. The challenges break down into a number of thoughts that are summarized, beginning with this task:

To empower the spirit of ecological integrity within Canada's national parks.

To create a spirit of learning and teaching for everyone in the Parks Canada family, to understand and acknowledge your responsibility for ecological integrity.

To examine the manner in which you work and to look for new ways of keeping your responsibility to ecological integrity.

To forge new tools to protect ecological integrity by knowing the land, questing for knowledge, and maintaining the spirit of ecological integrity.

To integrate Aboriginal peoples into the family of Parks Canada as trusted and knowledgeable friends within the spirit of ecological integrity.

To inspire in your neighbours an understanding of your responsibility to ecological integrity within national parks.

To build a spirit of ecological integrity which will unite the isolated places of the land into a mosaic that protects ecological integrity.

To bring into being a way of teaching about the land that strengthens the spirit of ecological integrity.

To welcome responsible activities that generate a greater spirit of ecological integrity while discouraging uses that create disharmony.

The next point is a beautiful one because it is almost poetic:

To walk softly upon the land in all actions and deeds.

To generate the needed equity to strengthen the spirit of ecological integrity, without which your responsibility to the land cannot be fulfilled.

To conclude this series of tasks,--and members must have noticed that the words “ecological integrity” are repeated regularly--it reads:

We, the Panel on Ecological Integrity, are willing to work with you to meet these challenges.

This is the essence of volume one of this report.

Volume two, which carries the same title “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, with the subtitle of “Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks”, has quite a number of highlights and recommendations. The panel recommended that:

Parks Canada transform itself, by confirming ecological integrity as the priority for Canada's national parks and as the explicit responsibility of every staff member through new training, staffing, decision-making and accountability structures.

I believe that everybody in this chamber would be fully supportive of this particular recommendation. Next:

Parks Canada revise and streamline its planning system to focus on ecological integrity as the core of strategic and operational plans.

The Minister direct Parks Canada to take immediate action to convert existing wilderness zones in national parks into legally designated wildernesses, as provided by the National Parks Act.

This is a very important key recommendation which we as parliamentarians ought to take very seriously. Next:

Parks Canada significantly enhance capacity in natural and social sciences, planning and interpretation, to effectively manage for, and educate society about, ecological integrity in national parks. Develop partnerships with universities, industries, Aboriginal peoples, and other learning-based agencies.

Parks Canada undertake active management where there are reasonable grounds that maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity will be compromised without it. Key actions are required in the areas of site restoration, fire restoration, species management and harvest.

Parks Canada initiate a process of healing with Aboriginal peoples. Adopt clear policies to encourage and support the development of genuine partnerships with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Today's Bill C-28 does exactly that. We welcome that development. Next:

Parks Canada develop partnerships that encourage the conservation of parks as part of larger regional ecosystems. Seek provincial and territorial co-operation to establish a comprehensive protected areas network. Work with other jurisdictions, industry and the public to find solutions on maintaining ecological integrity. Support these solutions with a fund dedicated to conservation efforts in the greater park ecosystems. Advocate for park values and interests in the greater ecosystems.

Parks Canada develop an interpretation strategy that presents clear and consistent messages about ecological integrity.

This next recommendation is very important:

Parks Canada cease product marketing to increase overall use of parks and concentrate instead on social policy marketing and demarketing when appropriate.

I am sure this is a very controversial recommendation, which is still being examined and discussed. Next:

Parks Canada develop a policy and implement a program for assessing allowable and appropriate activities in national parks, with ecological integrity as the determining factor.

This is also a very important and difficult recommendation to implement. Next:

Parks Canada reduce the human footprint on national parks so that parks become models and showcases of environmental design and management.

This is another very ambitious recommendation which will require very thoughtful implementation and will not be an easy one to put into practice. Nevertheless, it is a very important one.

The final recommendation states:

Following the taking of first steps to improve the broader management framework for ecological integrity within Parks Canada, allocate substantial new and additional resources to implement the Panel's recommendations on improving science and planning capacity, active management, monitoring, partnerships with Aboriginal peoples, stewardship initiatives in greater park ecosystems, and interpretation. Fund the establishment and operation of new parks from new resources. Enable management decisions in support of ecological integrity to be separated from revenue implications.

Here, there are quite a number of recommendations to implement.

As members can see, this report is far reaching. It looks at the long term. It places an enormous emphasis on ecological integrity because this term runs through the entire content of those reports. As I mentioned to Parks Canada, it probably makes the Parks Canada system unique in the world in that it is a fantastic approach. It commands a lot of attention and respect. Also, the chair of this panel, Jacques Gérin, was a deputy minister of the environment in the eighties and a very loyal and devoted public servant.

There is a passage in the first volume which is interesting. It offers an example of what is happening because of growth of population and other factors. It is devoted to the species loss in Point Pelee National Park, which as we know is at the very tip of Ontario along the shore of Lake Ontario. This is what it says:

An example of the major issues facing Canada’s national parks can be seen in the changes in biodiversity in Point Pelee National Park. Located in Ontario, Point Pelee is among Canada’s smallest national parks.

It is virtually an island. It is a minute piece of real estate the size of a postage stamp.

It goes on to say:

Since 1900, approximately 20 species of reptiles and amphibians have been lost from the park area. There are numerous reasons for this dramatic decline in species but in many cases the disappearances are not fully understood. Factors in species loss include:area and isolation-- the park is too small to support viable populations of some species. Point Pelee is isolated by intensive agriculture, roads and housing that surround the park. It is the only island of Carolinian forest protected within a national park.

--pollutants--DDT was used extensively in the 1960s to control mosquitoes, and higher residual levels may account for the loss of some species. Groundwater and sewage system monitoring programs indicate that excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds have been transported by groundwater to pollute the park's marshlands. Excessive nutrients in some areas may be a direct result of past cottage development, high visitation and the associated high density of sewage facilities depositing nutrients into the groundwater via outdated sceptic systems.

--over-use--with past visitations rates of over 750,000 visitors a year [which is three quarters of a million visitors] and the current visitation rates of over 400,000, human use continues to have a significant impact on this small park. Efforts in recent years to reduce trail development and consolidate facilities in services have improved the situation--and resulted in a deliberate reduction in the number of visitors--but impacts continue due to the still high volume of people in the park.

Therefore, it is the pressure by visitors that is being addressed as one of the reasons for species loss. It goes on to say:

Among the species loss from Point Pelee is the once-common bullfrog. Only a few years ago, visitors to the park could walk on the marsh boardwalk and hear a chorus of droning bullfrogs. Today that chorus is silent.

Perhaps we cannot address the global problems directly, but we can certainly take care of those stresses that we have created ourselves and that directly affect our protected areas. Until we have put our own house in order, we will have little credibility in advocating for global change.

I thought members might find it interesting to hear these quotations from volume I, “A Call to Action”, by the panel which I mentioned in this intervention.

It is an important document and it seems to me appropriate that it would be good timing to put this information on the record and bring it to the attention of hon. members. Because of the high quality of our parks in the country and because the ecological protection, significance and integrity of these parks, future generations of Canadians may want to pay attention to them to preserve their unique characters, be they in highly or nearby highly inhabited parts of the country or in remote parts of the country.

We have a network that is of unique beauty. It seems to me that the debate on Bill C-28 makes room for an intervention of this kind in order to bring these considerations to the attention of the House.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member for Davenport about the environment and the parks. We know this has been a longstanding passion for him.

On the Pacific Rim National Park, very briefly let me say that they have really done due diligence on the ecological integrity, the land development, roads design, housing, location and site drainage. All these things have been done with due study and detailed mapping.

I wanted to say this about that member. He has been really a voice for environment for the term that I have been here and long before that. I am not sure how many years he was the chair of the environment committee, but for many years he has stood for environmental issues in the House. The story we understand is that it is possible the member will not run again. I simply want to acknowledge the contribution he has made in the House to environmental issues, and as chair of that committee.

I am sure all members, indeed in all parties, recognize the contribution not only to the debates in the House, but to the character of the House, and I dare say that his presence here will be missed. I am sure he will find a way to make his presence known. As another hon. member mentioned, he may come back as a ghost, but I am sure this one will be around in some capacity or another to influence the affairs, particularly related to environment.

We want to congratulate the member for his longstanding efforts on this behalf.

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support the bill of my colleague from Calgary on this very important issue; that of home invasions, break and enters involving people's homes and residences.

I just cannot resist prefacing my statements on the bill today by simply stating how jealous I am of this member and indeed of all the other members who in the last 10 years have been able to put forward private members' bills, have them debated and in some instances voted on in this place.

In the 10 and half years, and I cry in my soup again, I have never once been drawn. It seems so incredibly unfair to me because I have such excellent private members' bills, which resonate well with Canadians across the country because of some of the work I have done on them.

The one on standardizing the date format is an example. What does two, three, four mean? Is it 2002, March 4, or whatever? I had one that would at least standardize it for legal purposes and hopefully move Canadians toward some consistency on how they expressed dates in numerical format. I never got a chance to have it debated in the House.

I have another very excellent bill on EI, pertaining to students to ensure that they do not have to pay premiums on an insurance policy that they cannot possibly ever collect. Yet it never was drawn, and did not have the opportunity to have that debated in the House.

I have yet another bill on property taxes. We know that we are overtaxed in this country. Families are having a hard time making ends meet. Yet my very excellent private member's bill, which would exempt property taxes from income tax, the principle being a Canadian should not have to pay taxes on money earned for the sole purpose of paying taxes, never got a chance to be debated.

Here I am after 10 and half years, and I expect to be re-elected. However, in the event that changes, this will be my last opportunity to talk about my private member's bills, which I never got to talk about in a meaningful way in this place. There we go. I thank everyone in the House for all the sympathy I am getting.

Having used two minutes of the time on this bill to promote my own, at least I got it off my chest.

This bill is a most important one. We have somehow in our society increasingly lost the fabric of ethical and moral behaviour. It has become fashionable nowadays, and to our regret even within the high levels of government, to take things which are not our own.

I remember when I helped write the handbook for our private Christian school, of which I was the chairman when we started out. We had a little section in there which we copied from others that said that students should not bring valuables to school, the intent being that then they would not be subject to being stolen. I could not resist, working on that, inserting another statement in there that said, “Notwithstanding this, that students should not bring valuables to school, we still expect our students to not take things that do not belong to them”. Even if there is something there that is valuable, one should not be able to take it.

I remember, when I was youngster, my mother taught me a very important lesson. It was in a different language so the idiom does not fit at all. Basically the message was, “You cannot steal even so much as a thimble”.

I imagine many people here do not even know what a thimble is. A thimble was a little device, usually metal in those days. It was put on the finger of a person sewing so that if the needle went astray, it would prevent the finger from being injured. That was a thimble. It was a very small, almost worthless, device. However, she taught us, “You do not steal even a thimble”.

I remember also, when I was youngster, that our home on the prairies in Saskatchewan was never locked. In fact I do not remember if we even had a lock on the door. I remember my dad asking why we should lock the doors. He said that perhaps when we were not home, someone would come by who needed to use the phone.

That was the kind of trust we had among one another in rural Saskatchewan when I was growing up. We were taught both by word and by example, by our parents, by our schools and by our churches, that we did not take stuff that did not belong to us. It was just unthought of.

What a sharp contrast that is to what we are seeing in government these days. I find it despicable. A reporter back home asked me if I was not happy with everything happening here because, she said, we now have an excellent chance of forming the government. Surely Canadians will punish these Liberals for taking a whole bunch of money, she said, for misappropriating it and spending it in ways for which it was not intended--except that she used much stronger language. I have changed her language so that it is parliamentary.

I responded to her by saying, “No, as a matter of fact, it makes me incredibly sad”. It makes me incredibly sad that in our government this type of thing can be done. Where is it that people get the idea they can spend taxpayers' money, which is to be held there in trust? Where do they get the idea that they can just take it and use it for whatever personal purposes they have, with or without accounting and with or without justification? That should be so far from our thinking that it should just never happen.

However, I have digressed. We are talking about a bill that says there should be a harsher sentence imposed on people who engage in the act of breaking into people's homes and taking their things. Of course, one of the reasons for this, one of the large reasons, is that the invasion of one's personal space is such a violation of the person himself or herself.

I have talked with many people who have had their homes broken into. They have all said that they are not as concerned about the television or whatever because that can be replaced. In fact, the insurance company, after a deduction, will replace the things that are taken.

What people are really concerned about is the fact that they have had their personal space violated. We used to say that a man's home is his castle; it is one of the places where we have the privacy of our home, our families, and we do not expect it to be invaded by a stranger with all sorts of intents that could be very devastating.

I will never forget the case of Barb Danelesko in Edmonton. It is now a fairly old case from probably seven or eight years ago. Three young offenders broke into her house. She thought it was the dog that wanted to go out, as dogs sometimes do in the middle of the night. She left her husband in his bed, the children upstairs, and she went downstairs to let the dog out, she thought. Unfortunately, these three young thugs grabbed a knife from the kitchen cupboard and they murdered her. This happened because they were in the process of breaking in. They were young offenders. We were not even permitted to know their names. I believe they are no longer serving a sentence for this crime. In essence, they got away with it. This is the type of thing that can happen.

This bill has as its primary goal to put a large deterrence on breaking and entering into homes. It would require a minimum mandatory sentence of at least two years for individuals who have been found guilty of a second or subsequent offence.

We are still letting them get away with the first offence, so let the Liberals vote in favour of this bill because they are always the ones who want to be soft on crime. We are being soft on the first offence, but we hope that after the first offence for which a person is convicted that person would learn the lesson and never do it again. If people have not learned the lesson and do it again, hence the subsequent or the second offence, then we say a minimum of two years.

This will do two things. First, it will act as a deterrent. Second, it will prevent that individual from continuing this activity for at least two years.